February 2003 Archives
It is a larger than usual crowd for open mic night in the small cafe. Guitar cases lay about, scattered between chairs and tables. A single speaker sits upon a table in the corner. Its power supplied by an outlet above a neon sign that reads, "Espresso Bar".
A girl sings an a cappella rendition of Bush's "Glycerine", a bold but very loose rendition. The audience is supportive as they applaud and give words of encouragement. She basks in warmth.
The garage band in the back jeers during the performance, making off-colored remarks. They are a group of teens who complain about the lack of good drummers in this little town.
Like any good little introvert, I do enjoy time by myself. Alone time is peaceful and relaxing. I can enjoy listening to music, reading, contemplating, learning, reflecting on recent experiences and social encounters or simply zoning out. It is a chance to recharge.
What got me started on this train of thought was an article about Caring for Your Introvert that kottke.org referenced a couple of days ago. I could relate to many of the points, but there was one sentence that caught my attention:
"Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone."
That statement rang true to me for some reason. There is a high that I get when I'm around people, especially people I know. While there is a whole other element of shyness that crops up from being around strangers, I still find the scene stimulating.
It is the aftermath that troubles me. After the effects of the busy environment fade, I hit this major low. It is the transition from being around everybody to being around nobody almost instantly that seems so difficult to handle.
It is as though I suffer from a social withdrawal, crashing with a craving. The extrovert in me tries to cope with suddenly being neglected, realizing that it will have to relent to the introverted side that will once again dominate.
Maybe the reason I feel this way is because I have indulged my inner-introvert long and often. If small talk and being around people is a draining event, I am not doing that enough to be fully drained before I recharge.
If you saw me heading towards a battery analogy, I apologize. Perhaps it is like a rechargeable battery, if you charge it before it is completely used, there is a distinct chance of overcharging. Too much charge leads to early battery failure.
There is a point in all of this rambling, I hope.
Too much alone time, even for an introvert, can be unhealthy. I need to stop overcharging my batteries.
It is a gray and glum morning. To be more accurate, the morning is gray and I am glum, but I'm not in the mood for quibbling.
The train is unusually crowded. I wonder if somebody forgot to attach a car. The conductor greets everybody over the intercom with an unusually hearty, "Buon Giorno!"
The usual cast boards the train at their usual stops, but some things are different.
The IBM Twins no longer wear identical jackets. Jansport girl, who always wears a black sweater or jacket, is wearing off-white. Laptop Guy #2 shaved his head and is watching The Bourne Identity.
My observations are interrupted by the conductor who announces, "Have a wonderful wonderful wonderful wonderful day!" I don't think he is aware that it is gray and glum outside.
I meant to write something about issues raised by other weblogs, ideas mentioned in a book and other random notions in my brain. It seems that I've effectively distracted myself and have written yet another train-related entry. Procrastination wins again. Now my stop is here and I must go.
The passing of Fred Rogers was the sad news I heard this morning.
When I was very young, I remember watching him on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. My favorite part of his show was when the trolley would travel along a track through a hole in the wall on its way to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. That part stays with me because my sister and I would play make-believe when we were small (it was such an inexpensive form of entertainment).
Of the man himself, I recall his smile, his calm and gentle manner and his music. Caring, imagination and learning were three things he encouraged and reinforced in me. But most of all, I will remember Fred Rogers as somebody who personified warmth and kindness.
In the spirit of trying something new, I will be attending my first film festival this weekend.
For more than a decade, Cinequest has presented a film festival in San Jose. It features a few world premieres and a number of independent, international and student films. Since almost all of my movie experiences have been through mainstream theaters or rented videos, the festival should be exciting and eye-opening.
It runs from February 27th through March 9th and takes place in a couple of different venues like the Camera Cinemas and the San Jose Repertory Theatre. With some careful planning and some possible sprinting, I'll be seeing ten movies over the next two weeks.
Half of the movies I plan to watch are part of the Pacific Basin Showcase, which highlights films from China, Japan, Vietnam and India. It is perhaps a token effort to feel more in touch with my cultural heritage, a cinematic companion to the stories I've been told and the books I've read.
A few of the movies I chose are digital films that will be shown with state-of-the-art digital projectors. Very fancy. I wonder if it will be a mind-blowing experience, like the first time I saw an IMAX film. I think that one was about dolphins and I had a distinct swimming feeling during the entire viewing.
I should note that whenever I actually talk about or write about upcoming plans, something always seems to thwart them, which would explain a few trips and hiking excursions that fell through this year. So I mention this whole thing in a rather hushed tone, checking over my shoulder, with my fingers crossed.
I struggled with the last one, but I'm sure that there are countless hours of fun in trying to produce the perfect caffeinated concoction from an espresso machine.
Another Major League Baseball season is less than a month away. Spring Training has been underway for a couple of weeks and pre-season games started only two days ago.
Of major concern to die-hard Giants fans, I'm sure, is how the team will do this year under the new skipper, Felipe Alou. Will Barry Bonds stay healthy enough to repeat his MVP season at the ripe old age of 38? Can San Francisco recreate a winning season with some veterans who may be past their prime (read Benito Santiago and Andres Galarraga)? Will the beautiful Pacific Bell Park be renamed SBC Park, or will someone come to their senses and give it a real name?
For everybody else, the news of another season only brings stifled yawns and mild exclamations like, "Oh God, not again!" For me, it is exciting that baseball is just around the corner.
Song on my mind... "All My Life" by the Foo Fighters
All my life I've been searching for something
something never comes never leads to nothing
nothing satisfies but I'm getting close
closer to the prize at the end of the rope
All night long I dream of the day
when it comes around and it's taken away
leaves me with the feeling that I feel the most
feel it come to life when I see your ghost
Perhaps I'm one of the few who still watch the Grammy Awards with the mistaken notion that it is musically relevant. Or perhaps I was only semi-coherent and too tired to change the channel when it came on. Either way, I ended up seeing it.
As with most award shows, I can do without the acceptance speeches. I was especially disappointed by the one where a whole group took turns at the microphone saying things that amounted to, "Hi Mom!" I did like the modest sentiment that John Mayer expressed in his acceptance speech, "I just want to say this is very, very fast, and I promise to catch up."
I noticed that so many of the major award winners were younger this year. Nelly, Ashanti, Mayer and Jones are all less than 25 years old. I wonder if that age group has always dominated or if I'm just noticing it now because I'm getting older.Five other things I noted last night:
- No Doubt, Nelly and Eminem seem to put on solid performances, regardless of the venue.
- Faith Hill and Avril Lavigne always seem to turn in disappointing performances.
- You can back Vanessa Carlton up with an entire orchestra, but she will never sound half as good as James Taylor accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma.
- Having 'N Sync pay tribute to the Bee Gees seemed entirely inadequate.
- Even after all this time, Simon & Garfunkel singing "The Sound of Silence" in a darkened arena, under a single spotlight, still makes for a great musical moment.
After being exposed to enough sneezing and coughing people, I was bound to get sick. It would be nice if my under-the-weather days planted themselves in the middle of the workweek and not the beginning of the weekend. My timing is all off.
On Saturday, I woke up with an achy body and runny nose. I was determined not to let that interfere with my plans, which included moving furniture that a friend had given me. While lifting and moving things, I must have experienced an adrenaline rush, because I didn't feel any soreness and my nose was fine. I thought that I had fought off the cold with some miraculous resistance. I was wrong. As soon as I sat down to rest on my "new" couch, the cold ambushed me.
The rest of Saturday and all of Sunday was rather a blur. This morning, I woke up feeling better. My body was saying that I was well enough to walk around slowly and make myself breakfast. I misunderstood and assumed I was well enough to go to work.
I took off after lunch, fearing that I would just make myself worse. A hot bowl of soup and nap on the couch, curled beneath a warm blanket, works minor wonders. A night of peaceful slumber (and a little medication) should do the trick.
It has been a pretty good Friday... work-wise. Coffee-wise, it has been an awful day. Somebody managed to break the office coffee machine and tried to repair it. I was paranoid that the coffee would taste like the caulking that was applied to the water reservoir. I drank some green tea instead.
I've been told that green tea is allegedly better for you than coffee, but I'm a bit skeptical. It sounds like propaganda spread by Lipton and Celestial Seasonings. While drinking my tea, I was reminded of a Garfield strip from a couple weeks ago...
Jon: How's that herbal tea?
Garfield: It's not coffee, that's how it is!
Okay, I'm gone. Have a good weekend everybody.
Due to an expressed curiosity, here is a photo of how I sign my first name. I want to apologize immediately for the awful resolution, but the original scanning effort was even worse. Silly me, showing my oh-so-average signature, can I disappear for while?
This morning's Wake Dat Ass Mix on KDON nearly drove me crazy. It starts around 5:30 AM and is powered by DJ Rich Laxamana. True to its name, it does wake my ass up.
He must have been clearing out the dust-covered archives today. I was still groggy-eyed when L'Trimm's "Cars With The Boom" came on and I had the sickening feeling that I had time warped back to the 80s. I never got out of bed so quickly.
We like the cars, the cars that go boom!
We're Tigra and Bunny and we like the boom!
A white car pulled up next to me and honked as I was walking to work this morning. It startled to me. The passenger door window lowered and I recognized the face from work. He asked me if I wanted a ride to the office. At first, I was going to decline, but it was a one lane road and there were five cars waiting impatiently behind him. To make less of a scene, I quickly accepted and dove into the car.
That would not have been all that weird, since once every couple months, somebody driving in offers me a ride. I call it good timing. It was strange that as I walked to the train station last night, a different coworker in a green car, honked at me and offered me a ride to the station.
It was deja vu, with even more cars unhappy that they had to stop unexpectedly on their commute home. A guilty feeling was coming on strong. I wanted to hide. I jumped into the car and I looked behind us to see the angry face of the other driver. We sped off quickly and made it to the depot.
I truly appreciated the kindness of my coworkers and thanked them both profusely. I just wish they wouldn't always display it in the middle of busy roadways.
While at the gym earlier this week, somebody mentioned to me that I signed my name very consistently. I thanked them for what I took as a compliment, but wondered if this was just a random comment because I simply assume that most people sign their name the exact same way all of the time.
Since I have to sign out after every session, my name was repeated maybe eleven or twelve times in a nice little column. I looked closer and they were about the same height and same width each and every time. It got me wondering when was the last time I intentionally changed the way I sign my name.
Until I graduated from college. I used to write my name pretty small. Once I had to start signing a weekly timecard, I increased the font size, imitating the big and fancy signatures of the important architects around me. I thought it would make me seem important too. Seriously, I did.
The only other major change happened back in high school. Until my junior year, I wrote the D in David with a loop across the top, like a baseball cap. Then one day, I received a card from a girl I liked. She wrote my name with a loop across the bottom. I was so taken with
her it and thought it was so cool, like an idiot, I practiced the style until it became part of my signature. I still write my D that way.
Since I am still working out kinks in a couple other entries (because they are just so darn deep and insightful, aren't they? ha!), I thought I would post the Friday Five from last week.
1. Explain why you started to journal/blog.
It was another way to express myself and address my social anxiety (another term for being inexplicably shy). It is a way for me to open up in a, perhaps deceptively, non-threatening environment.
2. Do people you interact with day to day or family members know about your journal/blog? Why or why not?
No, as far I know. Why not? I think I'm just not bold enough or wanting to draw attention to myself in that way. If they were ever to find out about this place, I wouldn't hightail it (at least I hope I wouldn't). The longer that this site goes undetected by the people around me, the harder I laugh, because it is rather hidden in plain sight.
3. Do you have a theme for your journal/blog?
It is personal in theme. It is about my thoughts (I have those), interests, quirks, aspirations, and opinions (I have those too). I try to stay away from getting too editorial on world events because I think the Washington Post and New York Times do a much better job.
4. What direction would you like to have your journal/blog go in over the next year?
Will it last that long? You might as well ask what direction I would like to see my life go over the next year, because that is where this journal will be. Hopefully one that becomes less lonely, less self-conscious and less naive about people, places and emotions. One that is higher in quality. Oh, and one that takes on a more sarcastic, critical and humorous edge every once in a while.
First of all, I don't think I've ever used the word "pimp" before. It seems to have a rather negative connotation to me. Instead of choosing only five sites, let me list five qualities I'm looking for in a blog.
- ones with honesty and modesty
- ones that are humorous and don't take themselves too seriously (which I tend to do way too often)
- ones that provide insight into what they think or feel
- ones that showcase and appreciate talent and expression (be it music, writing, photography, etc.)
- ones that open my eyes to new ideas or things I've never experienced
Yesterday, my work-related worries followed me home. I tried to lose them at the gym, but no amount of squats or leg curls could do it. I tried to ignore them while I watched Smallville, but that didn't work. And then they had the nerve to sit at the foot of my bed and tease me while I attempted to sleep.
They were still with me when I awoke this morning. I avoided direct eye contact and pretended that they weren't there. During my morning walk, I tried to focus on the buildings and the people, anything to avoid my troubles.
It wasn't until I got to the office that things started looking up. During a morning meeting, I talked about my worries, putting a spotlight on each one. I thought I could make them uncomfortable... and it worked.
Reassurances from others made them uneasy and explanations made them shift in their seats. Before the meeting was done, they had left the building and I was relieved. I hope they don't return for a while.
Song on my mind... "The Lucky One" by Alison Krauss + Union Station
Well, you're blessed, I guess
by never knowin' which road you're choosing.
To you the next best thing to playin' and winnin'
is playin' and losing.
You're the lucky one,
I know that now.
Don't ask you why, when, where or how.
You look at the world through your smilin' eye,
and laugh at the devil as his train rolls by.
Give you a song and a one night stand,
and you'll be lookin' at a happy man.
Cause you're the lucky one.
I happened to glance at the back of the cereal box this morning and saw something that surprised me. There was a little game where you matched "Great Quotes" with the famous people who said them. Quotes like...
Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length. - Robert Frost
But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads? - Albert Camus
Imagination is more important than knowledge. - Albert Einstein
There are only a few things I expect from a good breakfast cereal. It should taste good, be a source of fiber, provide at least 200 calories per serving (with milk) and be part of a complete breakfast. A prize or a good recipe doesn't hurt. But words of wisdom with my raisin bran? Now that is unexpected.
There are three items that I want to remember about today.
First, we took my Dad out to a nice dinner for his birthday and helped him start his DVD collection. There was a beautiful chocolate cake involved that was too pretty to eat. Due to President's Day, he had the much-deserved day off.Second, I had planned to go on about Sunday at my parents' place, but will simply summarize it with three bullet points:
- watched Meredith Willson's The Music Man
- watched a rebroadcast of San Francisco's Chinese New Year Parade
- attempted to complete The Art of Happiness
Third, I am rather disappointed that I can fall so easily into mope mode while reading a book about the art of happiness. To describe it in one inadequate sentence, I've been contemplating how the book's concepts and teachings are relevant or applicable to my own life.
This afternoon, I spent time alone in two places to read and write, removed from certain elements and typical demands. One was on the photographed bench overlooking the Coyote Parkway Lakes, only a few miles from my house. The other was at a plaza outside a bookstore in south San Jose. The latter brought me greater comfort. I was enveloped by the sounds of the plaza fountain, the murmur of conversations and the shifting tempo of passing footsteps, but still, completely alone. It sounds strange, but I sometimes think that the only way to break free from this loneliness is to completely embrace it.
The highlight of the weekend was seeing Varekai on Saturday night. I had never seen Cirque Du Soleil before and I had been secretly looking forward to it since getting the tickets at least a month ago.
According to the program, "varekai" means "wherever" in the Romany language. I simply parrot this bit of trivia now so that I may remember it at some future date and annoy somebody with it.
It was drizzling when we arrived. My first thought when seeing the blue-and-yellow tent from the outside and then entering was, "How could over two-thousand people possibly fit in here?" I was in a state of wonder throughout the entire show. It was a night mixed with high-energy acrobatics, colorful costumes, wonderful music and humor. I reveled in the imagination that surrounded me. While all of the acts were pretty incredible, the Icarian Games and the Georgian Dance stand out as two of my favorites. There was also the clown act involving a lounge singer literally chasing the spotlight that cracked me up.
I did fall into the gift shop trap (where the only available exit is lined with merchandise) and ended up purchasing the CD with music from the show. I can't wait for another Cirque Du Soleil tour to come through. The next time I'm in Las Vegas, I'll be sure to get tickets to see O at Bellagio or Myst�re at Treasure Island.
For wherever the wind carries you, you will always be home. Remember that quote and you'll be able to annoy your friends too.
By the way, I could have sworn that I saw somebody during the intermission, taking a smoke break. It was completely random, so I kept to myself and didn't say anything to him. That is all.
A train ride home after a long day at work was enough to convince me that I didn't want to spend Friday night in an empty house. I returned to downtown San Jose and took in the sights and sounds, hoping that it would cure the loneliness. It was temporary relief that wore off by the time Saturday morning came.
There was a Charlie Brown special over the weekend that captured the feeling pretty closely:
Charlie Brown: Can you cure loneliness?
Lucy: For a nickel, I can cure anything.
Charlie Brown: Can you cure deep-down, black-bottom-of-the-well, no hope, end-of-the-world, what's-the-use loneliness?
Lucy: For the same nickel?!
You are kind and gentle, smart and funny, sweet and understanding. You are educated, well-read, talented and accomplished. That is great and all, but seriously, Are You Hot?
I don't know what possessed me to change the channel, but I ended up watching that show in amazement and laughter. Young people from across the country came to show off their stuff. All of them there to answer the burning question, "Deep down, under all those complicated layers of clothing, are you hot?"
I have avoided wearing wrist watches for the longest time. I think the last time I wore one with any regularity was back in high school. All I remember is that there would be a nice white band on my wrist whenever I took it off. From then on, I kept the watch in my pocket and pulled it out whenever I needed to know the time.
I now have a belt watch that clips to the belt loop. It works out really well, but I'm always asked, "Is that a compass on your belt?" I guess that would be a natural assumption, since I must look lost all of the time. After a while, I'm thinking that I should actually wear a compass. So the next time they say, "Ah, you're wearing your watch, can you tell me the time?" I can say, "Oh no, this isn't a watch, but that way is north."
It would be nice to have a stunt double occasionally. Not for the physically challenging things, just the ego-shattering times of rejection or moments of extreme anxiety. It would be good to have somebody, who looks like me from the back or from far away, step in when I'm about to have my heart broken. Sadly, my life doesn't have the budget to hire one.
- knows a lot more about reality television than admitted here.
- sings more, but annoyingly, doesn't remember most of the lyrics.
- uses phrases like "cool", "man", "no way" and "uhhhh-huh".
- swears more as in "darn it", "dang" and "holy crap".
- is skinnier and walks faster.
- tends to smile and laugh more, but just a little.
- doesn't :( or :P or sigh
- uses less punctuation and doesn't refer to the dictionary as often.
- doesn't use single initials to refer to people I know.
- doesn't time stamp thoughts or provide permalinks to them.
Song on my mind... "A Praise Chorus" by Jimmy Eat World
are you going to live your life wondering
standing in the back, looking around?
are you going to waste your time thinking
how you've grown up
how you missed out?
things are never going to be the way you want
where's it going to get you acting serious?
things are never going to be quite what you want
even at twenty five you got to start sometime
The rain is coming down lightly this morning. Umbrellas line up along the train platform. The high school boys brave the weather by staring at the ground. Wearing only sweatshirts and shorts, they must think they're cool.
Almost everything takes on a hint of gray, but some things appear more vivid. The school crossing guards wear their bright yellow slickers. The grass farms across the road look greener. White headlights and streetlights reflect off the wet and shiny pavement.
The horn seems louder today, blowing a warning at every intersection. The approaching station slowly comes to a stop and the doors open gently. Everyday people stream from the train, through the building and out to the city. With umbrellas opened and hoods raised, they dash off to another day of school and work.
The rain is such a pleasant change from the usually sunny weather.
Eric has some great photos of Saturday's house concert. They are much better than the three that I took, so go check them out.
Sunday came too quickly. I was supposed to be up in San Francisco again for a 5K run. I overslept my alarm and woke up at race time. When I say "overslept", I mean the alarm went off, I looked at the time and said, "You have got to be kidding me!" I then shut off the alarm and fell back asleep.
I eventually got out of bed and ran a 5K equivalent down the major street bordering my neighborhood. After grabbing breakfast downtown, I jammed over to Gilroy and their ten-lane bowling alley. They have a Sunday special, so I somehow managed three games and shoe rentals for $5.25. For the record, I bowled 113, 135 and 148.
The guy in the next lane, who showed me how to use the antique scoring machine, put together six strikes in a row. He lost his form on the seventh frame and came up with a spare. That must've hurt.
His son, who was maybe ten or eleven, bowled with him. The kid had an incredible delivery with an exaggerated spin that would hug the gutter before coming back in between the front pins. For the record, he bowled 184 and 178.
I then did some shopping in downtown Gilroy and made my way back home. Since there were still matinee showings, I took in Shanghai Knights, the Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson film. Have you ever noticed that Jackie seems to have at least one scene in every American movie where he is in the buff? What is that about?
Whenever I get into San Francisco, two thoughts cross my mind. First, I think of how I would love to live in the city with all of its culture, food and bustle. Second, I think of how I would last only three days with my current driving skills. There may have been one point where I assumed that a two-way street was really a one-way street. I quickly got over that misperception.
The house concert was being held at Eric's pad. It is a very cool place with high white walls tastefully covered by large photograph prints. I got there a little later than everybody else, so after putting down the cookies I brought, I took a seat up in the loft. A grand piano stood near the staircase with rows of chairs facing it in a recital-like formation. It was exceptionally intimate and comfortable with about fifty or sixty people there.
Maya was the first to perform. Most of the songs she played were from her new album, Waiting Here. She did perform one song called, "A Girl", that wasn't on the release. My other favorites from her set included "Do You Remember?" and "Words Like Rain".
At the break, I got her CD and complimented her on a wonderful performance. I often wonder how artists take such comments. Do they expect it? Do they grow tired of it and hope you say something meaningful or insightful? I would be a disappointing fan, since all that pops into my nervous head is the generic, "You were so great!" I did somehow manage to ask both women for their autographs. No wimping out this time.
After the break, Vienna performed. She played quite a few songs that were not from her album, Waking Hour. My favorites included "My Medea", "Gravity (Lake Version)" and "Green Island Serenade". Just so I won't forget the names of the other non-album songs, they were "Maya", "Mission Street", "Rain Walk Song" and "Boy At The Piano".
I left shortly after the encore performances. Everybody there seemed to know at least one other person and I was feeling out of place. It was an amazing night, seeing such talented people in action, and it made my whole weekend.
"You know that M. Night Shyamalan movie that everybody says is so great? I just saw it and thought it sucked. Can you watch it and tell me what you think?" That is how I got talked into seeing Signs. I watched it and thought that was ho-hum. I was a little put off at how conveniently all of the unrelated pieces of the puzzle fit together at the end. On a less skeptical day, I'm sure I would have thought it was pure genius. I did enjoy the movie's quiet qualities, people speaking in low tones and extended scenes with no dialogue, where the focus was on everything but the characters.
A perfect companion movie to Signs is, of course, Austin Powers in Goldmember. I loved the first five or ten minutes of the film. The cameos and the whole musical number were hysterical. There were also a few scenes where I couldn't stop laughing, but for the most part, the movie seemed uneven. Gags that I would have found funny ten years ago now seem a bit disgusting. I must be losing my sense of humor in my old age.
On Saturday evening, my car's odometer reached the 20,000 mile milestone on the way to San Francisco. I purchased that vehicle back in 1999. It has the distinction of being the first and only one I've ever owned. Considering that I've commuted by mass transit for so long, I must've logged most of those miles on the weekend. Random calculation: If I drove at the speed limit over the last four years (unlikely) and averaged 25 mph, I've spent roughly 800 hours in that car. Thank goodness for comfortable seats.
February 11, 2003 - I wrote this shortly after the Maya and Vienna performances. I am not hiding this, I swear. I am just backdating it to the time it was written.
I don't want to forget this feeling. The one that started less than five hours ago and is slowly fading away. It is one of utter joy mixed with yearning. It has been so long since I have experienced these emotions. I am sure this will sound completely ridiculous in the morning, but it's how I'm feeling right now. It is hard to express everything.
For two hours, I was immersed in music. One piano and one voice. Intoxicating and beautiful. The whole room seemed to disappear and the only thing left was the music. It was a combination of many things: the setting, the instrument, the voice, the lyrics, the melody, the frame of mind. They all seemed to come together.
There were moments when I anticipated certain notes and when they were played, I couldn't help but smile. When an unexpected chord filled the air, I couldn't help but laugh. And when a particularly touching song finished, I couldn't help but let out a sigh of contentment. I didn't want it to end.
Let me try to explain it another way. Growing up, there was music in my parents' house. My sister and I began playing the piano at a young age. I was about six and she was maybe four. As soon as we got home from school, it seemed that somebody was on the piano. The music would go on until dinner was served.
It has been a long time since then. With me moving out and my sister focusing on graduate studies, the piano sits idle and the house is quiet. Tonight, it was like I was transported back many years. Looking down from the loft overhead and listening to the music, I felt at home.
On the drive back, I couldn't bear to have the radio playing. I didn't want to lose the feeling. Deep down, I yearn for the music and piano. It is something that I have repressed and forgone for what now seems like forever.
To be able to play it again and feel it again, with consistency, would mean so much. In my darkest moments the piano brought me comfort, lifted me up and brought me focus. It was a way to meditate, become centered and allow everything else to simply fall away. How I miss it.
A couple days ago, somebody wrote briefly about online vs. real personas. They wondered if they portray themselves on their site differently than they do in real life. It is something I've asked myself on a number of occasions, especially since I'm still new to online journaling and prone to overanalyzing myself.
I believe I portray myself here pretty closely to how I am in real life. For me, it is more satisfying and just easier. When I read old entries, I don't want the feeling that I'm being phony or playing to an audience, saying things that I think others want to hear or simply aping for acceptance. What good would that do me? I've already done and felt that for such a long time in real life and that wasn't satisfying.
Do I worry that people will think that I'm naive, lead an uninteresting life and have poor taste? Yeah I do, but maybe I am naive and have bad taste. I am constantly seeking to be happier and better. I'm constantly attempting to make my life more adventurous, exciting and interesting. I try not worry and guess what others are thinking about me. I struggle with being so self-conscious constantly, both online and in real life.
The other thing I don't want to do is portray myself as this ultra-cool, ultra-smart or ultra-sophisticated person. First of all, I'm not that smart and not that cool. Secondly, I assume that most everybody else is more sophisticated and experienced and will see right through me. Call it expectation management, but if I were to misrepresent myself and then meet anybody who actually reads this, I would never be able to reconcile the real me with the guy they've read about. That would be unfair to everybody. To show myself as somebody I'm not is self-defeating.
It is all about context. The personality portrayed here is me with a little time delay and slightly better grammar. I reveal some traits here that I may not in real life and there are things that I would only confess to in real life. I bet this is true for almost everybody I read. Plus, isn't it sometimes more revealing all the things I don't say? What you see is just a different angle of the same guy in all his magnificent simplicity.
The 1960s seems to be the source of this morning's theme music. The gym was playing classics from The Beatles, somebody mentioned an old Sinatra song and the cafe where I got my latte was playing "Up On The Roof" by The Drifters. Odd, but cool.
When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it's peaceful as can be
And there the world below can't bother me
If I had not eaten that extra pear slice or had not fumbled with the keys, I would have been riding the train instead of driving to work. To see the train pulling away as you park your car is not so bad. To see the doors close as you valiantly jump onto the sidewalk, a mere two steps away, is bad. It warmed my heart to see the boys from Bellarmine Prep waving to me as the commuter train left the station.
What is the remedy for a case of bad timing? One way is to enjoy a large toffee nut latte during a nasty commute. I love lattes and toffee is just fine, so combining the two is tasty. Sipping while in stop and go traffic provides a little consolation for missing the rail and enjoying a good book.
Most days can go by without anybody really taking notice of me. I am simply a guy buying a sandwich or a CD. Yesterday was an exception and I was surprised twice by the fact that I wasn't as "invisible" as I thought.
First, the nice girl at the cafe that sells Peet's coffee recognized me. Seriously, she did not mistake me for somebody else. All this time, I must have thought that I was anonymously purchasing an espresso drink without anybody noticing. Now my cover as the random Tuesday morning medium latte guy has been blown. I suppose I didn't mind so much after she smiled and gave me a frequent buyer card. Only eight more lattes and I get one free. Very cool.
Second, the gym's counter girl knows my name. We met only one time, about a month ago, so I have no clue how she remembered. Guilty feelings arose since I had to inconspicuously look at her name tag for hers. Thoughtless and bad, very bad. At least I will be able to greet her by name next time. I guess my cover as the random evening workout guy is blown as well. sigh
I can't stand it when I set out to write a list of five things and the first four come so easily. I then strain and struggle and push and pry to think of that fifth item, but it never comes. I end up throwing a poor substitute in there just to complete the list. Maybe I should be creating a top six list instead, just to fool myself into thinking up five things in the first place.
The one thing that I have come to enjoy, since commuting by train, is my morning walk. The downtown train station is about two miles from where I work. If paced properly, it takes about twenty-five minutes to walk with stoplights and all. It is a nice substitute for hiking, since darkness still comes too quickly after work. The term "urban hiking" comes to mind, but that is only because I saw it used somewhere before.
The trail begins just across the street from the HP Pavilion, where the Sharks play. From there it follows a street lined with palm trees on either side. It crosses over the Guadalupe River, then under a highway overpass and into a forest of high-rise office buildings. New buildings, like the Opus Center, seem to tower over the older, historic ones, like the Hotel DeAnza. The steady hum of cars and buses is only broken by the periodic roar of an airplane passing overhead.
Many small restaurants, bars and coffeehouses border the trail. At the Light Rail station, it abruptly breaks to the left onto a one-way street that continues north. The high-rises quickly give way to one and two-story commercial offices. Further up, a park dominates one side of the path while a post office and courthouse occupy the other.
Luxury condominiums seem to mark the end of downtown and keep the single-family residential neighborhoods at bay. The rest of the route is made up of older homes and buildings with a sign at one major intersection indicating that Japantown is a few blocks to the east. The sign also means that I'm only a couple blocks away from work.
This morning had perfect walking weather. The sky was clear and it was around fifty degrees, cold enough to warrant a comfortable jacket. The right conditions made me appreciate the trip even more and set a positive mood for the rest of the day.
It started out a little rough with national events and all, but it slowly improved as the day went on. The low point must have been when I realized that I needed to go into the office to finish up an assignment for an 8:00 AM Monday morning deadline. Instead of waiting until Sunday, I thought it best to get the whole thing done and over with on Saturday afternoon.
The wonderful thing about working in an office alone is that there really is no other distractions. I don't mind my own distractions like getting up for more coffee or taking a five minute break to squeeze the life out of a stress ball. Playing loud music while working is not a distraction for me. It is actually a way to cover up the conversations going on outside my cube or the deathly silences that drain my attention span.
After the assignment was completed, I rushed to my parents' place so that we could all head out for dinner. We were five minutes late for our reservations, but they had held our table. I tried to take a picture when the table was completely full, but food was disappearing fast. My favorite dishes, from what you see there, would be the Chinese broccoli and black mushrooms with oyster sauce and the minced pork with salted fish. The plate in the center is bitter melon with beef, my dad's inexplicable favorite.
I had depressed myself by thinking about Jack and Jill. I really don't know why I did that, but it seriously dampened my mood. On the way home, while listening to a college radio station, I heard about live music going on Friday night at the Quarter Note in Sunnyvale.
The Quarter Note is a little bar and grill hidden amongst commercial offices. Off to one side are two pool tables, a foosball table and shuffleboard. On the other side of a glass-topped divider are tables for two, a small dance floor and the corner stage.
The three-man garage band from Lodi, Jacket Weather, started things off. The memorable song from their set was called "Tires Me Out". They were followed by a young San Jose rock band called The Woods. They were a little fresh and probably need more stage time to settle their nerves.
After them were The Kirby Grips, a three-girl rock band from San Francisco. So far, they have two albums released. All three shared lead vocal responsibilities and really rocked. The most noticeable song was the slower-paced country-inspired "Needless".
The night wrapped up with the high energy reggae/ska band named Pacific Vibrations. With a combination of covers intermixed with their touching originals, like "Compassion", they had the place jumping from the first song until the grand finale.
On Friday, a group from the company went on a tour of the 8.7 mile BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) extension along the peninsula side of the bay from South San Francisco to Millbrae. The new line actually branches off to enter the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) along an elevated rail. Approximately 6 miles of the extension is subterranean. The tour covered all four new stations and included a presentation discussing the history of the project, including the coordination and environmental challenges faced. It was an exciting tour and a preview of possibilities if BART ever comes from Fremont to San Jose.
Before this day gets too far gone... Happy New Year! Gung Hay Fat Choy!
I just want to bury this away. I am not sure what prompted me to turn on the television early this morning, but I did, and that was how I heard about the Space Shuttle Columbia. My stomach tightened and I was thrown back seventeen years in the past to the Challenger explosion. The same feelings of grief washed over me.
To explore, to expand the boundaries of human knowledge, to perform scientific experiments in new areas for the betterment of mankind, of these things I know very little. But I know that I appreciate the valiant efforts of the men and women who would risk their lives for such pursuits and dreams. A cause so noble and a mission so worthwhile, I mourn for those seven astronauts and wish their families hope and strength.